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  • May 14, 2015

The Essential Guide to Running a Restaurant: Top 5 Challenges for Restaurateurs

By: Sarah Clelland, HGBU Marketing Director

What’s the biggest challenge that restaurateurs face in today’s market? What inspired them to open a restaurant in the first place? What do they love about the industry?

These are just three of the questions that we put to several restaurant owners in interviews for our new eBook, the Oracle Hospitality Essential Guide to Running a Restaurant.

We spoke to customers from the US, Mexico, Australia, Hong Kong, the UK, France, Italy, and Denmark, but despite the difference in location the same key challenges came up time and time again.

The top five challenges of running a restaurant business were:

1) Staying in control of all aspects of the business

If you’re a chef and more at home in the kitchen, how can you control what’s happening at front of house? Or if you started with one successful restaurant and now you have five sites, how do you keep control of everything when you can’t be in five places at once? For Mike Isabella, owner of a number of restaurants in the US, you need attention to detail when training FOH staff, ensuring that they understand the food, the wine, and the type of service that you want to deliver to your guests.

How technology can help: From using FaceTime to keep an eye on what is being served when you can’t physically be there (like Bryan Voltaggio) through to using technology to guide kitchen staff on how a dish should be prepared, alert you should inventory levels run low, control discounts, provide front of house staff with a process for handling guests, or monitor sales performance of multiple sites through a reporting console, there is more technology available to owners and managers than ever before to help you keep control.

2) Finding and retaining good employees

Almost every restaurant owner that we spoke to mentioned the challenge of finding and retaining good staff. Jeremy Courmadias at Rockpool in Sydney talks in the book about the importance of creating a culture based on development within your business, so that you can encourage the best staff to come and work for you, and then encourage them to stay.

How technology can help: training staff takes time and the focus of that training should be on your culture and your guest experience standards, not on how to use the point of sale system. Oracle Hospitality systems are designed to be easy to learn and easy to use, plus you’ll find them in thousands of restaurants around the world, which means your teams will probably be familiar with them already. The opportunity to work with industry-leading solutions can also attract staff keen to develop their CVs.

3) Consistency

When we asked the question ‘what was the biggest shock when you first opened a restaurant?’ we heard the same answer several times: the need to deliver excellence day in, day out. As Claude Mariaux, who runs Tummies in the UK, put it; “You soon realize that you are only as good as the last meal you serve.”

How technology can help: Kitchen technology systems can play an important role in ensuring the consistency of your food, helping chefs to prepare dishes on time using the right ingredients and with the right presentation. Technology is also hugely important in ensuring that service is efficient - waiting a long time for service, for food, or to pay can be detrimental to the guest’s experience in your restaurant and the right systems can help keep things moving. Inventory solutions keep you informed so you don’t run out of stock and have to disappoint guests that dishes are not available.

4) Efficiency

Many of the restaurant owners that we spoke to had previously worked for large hospitality organizations with extensive financial and operational resources at their disposal. Going out on your own means that there is great pressure to maximize cost efficiency in every area.

How technology can help: Inventory management systems, such as our myinventory solution, give you visibility of your stock to help you control your expenditure, while also showing you how changes are affecting your profitability. If the price of eggs increases, for example, which items on your menu are affected and do you need to review prices? Staff management solutions also help you to plan schedules correctly, so you have the right number of employees at the right time.

5) Competition

The restaurant market is growing and many of our interviewees mentioned that it is getting harder to manage a restaurant business; it is tougher to find good staff and you have to work harder to attract guests.

How technology can help: Technology should help you deliver an excellent guest experience, which is the number one way of maintaining customer loyalty. Technology can help you attract guests, whether through social media or through loyalty programs. It should also help you to evolve – extending your restaurant to offer outdoor eating areas, for example, or giving you the option to differentiate yourself with delivery and takeaway. Lastly, it should also give you full control of your business, so that you can forecast sales and then track performance minute by minute to help you adapt to change.

The Oracle Hospitality Essential Guide to Running a Restaurant is now available and free to download from the Oracle website.

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